The world is heating up, and everything and everyone is affected by it. From truck drivers and the vehicles they operate to roadway surfaces, heat has a detrimental effect on mobility. This is not a new trend, but it is worsening every year. In the future, men and machines and the infrastructure will need to accommodate the effects of heat. Let’s take a look at how heat exhaustion affects drivers first.
How the Body Maintains a Constant Temperature
The human body works best at an ambient temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Mother Nature does not always comply. Our internal temperature is maintained at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Humans cannot survive if the body temperature rises above 108.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Our body releases heat into the atmosphere when its temperature rises. The warm blood is circulated near the body’s surface, and warm air is released as we breathe out. It also uses perspiration as a means of cooling the body down. But what happens when the ambient temperature is the same or higher than our bodies?
What If the Ambient Temperature Is Higher Than 98.6 Degrees?
In cases like this, the release of heat from the body to the atmosphere is hampered. Humidity also has a part to play in this heat dispersal process. If the ambient air is above our core temperature and we try to disperse heat to a humid atmosphere, the humidity will interfere as will the lack of a breeze.
Heat Exhaustion, Stroke, and Truck Drivers
Truck drivers cannot always find a cool spot to park or an air-conditioned room. Most spend their time in the truck’s cab, which may or may not be cooled. In addition, high temperatures can easily send the cab to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit even with air conditioning. Spending time at this temperature can easily interfere with a trucker’s health.
What Is Heat Exhaustion?
When the body overheats, it uses perspiration to reduce the temperature. Sweating in this situation loses a great deal of salt and water. Older people and those with high blood pressure suffer the most.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
The following are symptoms of heat exhaustion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Profuse sweating
- Elevated body temperature
- Decreased urine output
- Cool, clammy, pale skin
- Rapid, weak pulse
What Can You Do for Someone Suffering From Heat Exhaustion?
Follow these steps to treat heat exhaustion in a worker:
- Workers should be taken to a clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation and treatment.
- Make sure someone stays with the worker until help arrives.
- Take the worker out of the hot area and give him or her liquids to drink.
- It is a good idea to remove unnecessary clothing.
- Cold compresses should be applied to the worker’s head, face, and neck.
- Water should be sipped frequently.
This differs noticeably from heat exhaustion. Some notable differences are the headache felt with heat exhaustion is now throbbing. The weak, rapid pulse becomes strong and rapid. The patient stops sweating in heat stroke, and the skin is no longer pale and clammy but becomes red, dry, and hot. The person might lose consciousness, and their body temperature soars to about 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
Call 911 when there is a question of heat stroke. Take steps to cool the person down until the ambulance arrives. The easiest way to do this is to move them to an air-conditioned place. If they are fully conscious, you can give them cool water to drink. Never give them alcoholic beverages.
Cramps are often a harbinger of heat exhaustion. The individual usually presents with profuse sweating and severe cramps in the legs and abdomen. It is best to provide pressure to the affected area along with a gentle massage. Water may be given in small increments. If nausea occurs, stop water intake. When heat cramps last longer than one hour, it is best to seek medical attention.
This refers to the process of muscle breakdown that causes the body to release proteins and electrolytes in response to heat exposure, direct trauma, exertion, and some medications. This can damage the kidneys and the heart and even cause death or permanent disability. Construction workers and landscapers have a higher incidence. So do sports players.
Initial symptoms are severe muscle cramps, dark-colored urine, and weakness or the inability to complete tasks. Symptoms can occur days after heat exposure and should be dealt with quickly in an effort to achieve recovery.
Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. A less severe case is treated by removing the person from the heat source, providing fluids, and urging rest. More severe cases might require IV fluids that prevent heart and kidney damage.
Machines and Surfaces Can Also Be Affected by the Heat
In severe weather, humans and the machines, they use to suffer from heat exposure. Further, when the machine breaks down, it can take a toll on the human user. Trucks are a primary example of what heat can do to the vehicle and the direct effect that it has on the driver, leading to potential collisions.
Tires Are Susceptible to Hot Temperatures
Tires should be checked every 120 minutes or after traveling 100 miles. The tire mounting and air pressure are of particular concern. When the tire heats up, it is best to stop and let it cool off. The heat can make a tire blowout more likely.
Engine Trouble in the Heat
It is wise to check the water and engine coolant before beginning a trip. If the heat gauge shows the engine is overheating, chances are something is wrong. Stop the vehicle and wait for the engine to cool before checking it, or you may experience serious hand burns. Once this is done, it is possible to remove the radiator cap. If more coolant is needed, you need to wait until the unit has cooled off. Turn the cap to the first stop, and the pressure should be fully released. When this is done, the cap can be removed and coolant added if needed.
How Truck Damage Affects Drivers and Other Motorists
When the truck gives out, accidents happen, and injuries to truckers and other motorists are seconds away. Keeping your truck in shape when driving under hot conditions is a safety precaution. If this is not done and a motorist or passenger vehicle occupants are injured, the trucking company and the trucker may be looking at a large lawsuit.